Wheelchair Accessible Diamond Princess Cruise Mexican Riviera
Drobashevsky © 2005
Vladimir & Elfrieda Drobashevsky, of Pennsylvania, hit the high seas for a 7-day cruise of the Mexican Riviera.
My report on this cruise, is basically geared for the disabled cruisers, but I will
try to go in general terms for everyone else, interested. Wife and I arrived in Los Angeles/San Pedro a day earlier, just to be safe, since we
decided to do air transportation on our own. We overnighted in San Pedro Holiday Inn.
With an exception of a truly nice HP room, I hesitate to say anything nice about the inn. Especially the dining experience and their offer to use "Air & Cruise" shuttle from LAX and back after the cruise. In retrospect, should have listened to good people from "rec.travel cruises, newsgroup", that suggested to use a taxi for a few $ more.
Somehow the Holiday Inn shuttle delivered us to the San Pedro Int'l Pier the next morning and we were on board in 10 minutes. I did select our HP cabin C 300, over the Internet, Diamond Princess, Deck 10 floor plan, but booking, as always, trough our local AAA.
Indeed, there were no disappointments. One huge pretty cabin, well appointed, plenty of storage cabinets and hangers, small fridge and a large TV. Both, the balcony and the bathroom had a wheelchair ramp. I could easily push my wife over onto balcony, but the door ramp to the bathroom was at the 45 degree to the rest of the room; it was hard to swing the chair and do the ramp, and at the same time, open the bathroom door. This meant a wake up call in the middle of the night : "Hon, would you help me with the bathroom ramp"...There was a small lay-out problem inside the bathroom. A tiny sink, small glass shelves
and no cabinets to store our toiletries and prescriptions. On the plus side, the shower worked perfectly (no-brainer for a brand new ship!) and we found plenty of room to navigate WC on to the shower folding bench. Also, hand rails everywhere. Our luggage arrived in a record time and we unpacked it all (tons and tons of stuff, when my "Mother Superior" travels!) before the Muster.
Our designated Muster station was
bellow us on Deck 7. It was well organized, with an exception of a few, that did not
believe in carrying the life jackets... It was impossible to return to our stateroom after
the Muster, imagine 2 to 3 hundred, mostly young and capable passengers, all waiting
for the four elevators! No chance for the wheelchair!
The heck with it, we decided to explore the ship. Simply, it is one beautiful, brand new lady. Custom designed carpeting, awesome paintings everywhere, open big Atrium amidships, and all spotless and squeaky clean. The ship design is such, that we never felt crowded, in spite over 2600 passengers.
There was, however, one small glitch. In order to get to our dining room on the deck 6, stern, I had to take the elevator to deck seven, then walk -read: "push" about a mile and then still take one more elevator to deck 6. By the 7th day on board, I've felt leg muscles, I did not know I had. The reason for the detour, the kitchen lay-out right between the two restaurants, a nice advantage for the waiting staff, but a little promenade for the caretakers of the disabled.
Through our booking I've requested a table for eight, early dining, and to my surprise we were assigned to a table for four. The other couple were our dear neighbors back home, Patty and Jack, but the thought was to be able to meet other passengers at a larger table. Well, once we met our waiter Joseppe (Italy) and Richard (Romania), we did not move. Excellent personal attention from both and a funny beautiful personality. The four of us, really looked forward to our dining with these two. Back to our neighbor and friend Patty. She happens to be a follower of Emeril/Food Network and Elfrieda and I consider
her as a serious gourmet cook. In her valued opinion, the food in our main dining room deserved eight points out of ten. The other two points? It can always be better!
Every evening we were presented with two menus, the other with choices from the "Any-Time Dining" restaurants. A few times we ate at the Horizon Court, Deck 14, breakfast or lunch, but not with enthusiasm. First, the cooks there, did not spare grease, the fried eggs almost slid off my plate, but the logistics, were the main reason. I had to find a table and seat my wife, then I would search, what I thought, my wife would like to eat (absolutely, no room for the WC in the food display area), then I would repeat the same task for myself and finally
get us both something to drink. Contrary, the other Lines, Celebrity, for example, would assist the HP passenger, taking him/her to the food court and then to the table. This, including the beverages.
As for on board entertainment,
during the sea-days, we played cards in the morning, to my wife's dismay, a brand new ship
- without game and card room! After lunch, Elfrieda would usually take a rest, my
chance to take off to the pool!
Well, hardly this cruise.It did not rain, but the temperature was never over 68 degrees, not exactly a swimming weather. Evenings after dinner, we had two choices. Either to the theater or casino. In addition to being an amputee, my wife is also visually impaired (Macular Degeneration). So there were theater program limitations. The only area for the WC passengers was at the very top by the theater entrance. Three chairs on the starboard side and three chairs on the port side. In order to secure the space, one would have to be there at least
45 minutes before the show. We did
make it one time, an enjoyable comedian, a former LA pd member. The variety stage
shows were simply too far for her to see from the "peanut gallery". WC bound person
could not get closer to the stage, because of the gazillion steps down the isle. OK,
so we ended in the casino most of the evenings, then a few drinks with our
neighbors at the "Wheelhouse Bar" and off to our cabin and CNN news.
There are three ports, that
Diamond stops in Mexico, seven-day cruise. First,
Puerto Vallarta, then Mazatlan
and on the
way back to LA - Cabo San Lucas. I did not sign up for the shore excursion in
Puerto Vallarta, but we did get off for a small shopping on our own next to the pier,
nothing further accessible.
The next day in
Mazatlan, we were very lucky to board the bus
with an excellent tour guide. It was a scenic drive along the waterfront, visiting the
cathedral and after limited shopping, a visit to Aztec theater to see folkloric
dancers and aerial acrobatics by Papantla Flyers. A great show! We were again off on
a Princess sponsored tour in Cabo San Lucas, the next day. This was a tender
shuttle to the pier ( no problems with WC ) and then off to a smaller boat, exploring the
famous rock arches, where the waters of the Gulf meet the Pacific. Sorry, did not
see sea lions, seals, and much of wild life, other then a lot of pelicans. We did not
continue to Giorgius Restaurant, part of the tour and made it back to the ship.
The next day, early, we were back at San Pedro Pier. It was a fairly smooth
disembarkation, if one did not
mind sitting in assigned areas for two hours, waiting for the right color tag to be
called. Finally, a burly crew member came to assist my wife and we were off to the
terminal and our luggage. It was a most orderly exit compared to our other cruises. The
luggage was neatly stored in small rooms according to the color tag. Plenty
of porters and with Patty and Jack, we were on the way to LAX and home.
In summary, one fine cruise; both
of us dreaming at the present time, how to take it "from Paul and give it to Pete" to
get us to the next cruise, real soon. I guess. that is what retirees are supposed to do!
Vladimir & Elfrieda's other cruise reports
on the following pages.
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